God in a Manger

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Reading the Word

Luke 2:1–7 (ESV)

1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In these verses we read of the Jesus’ birth. The whole thing is recorded in seven verses. The most startling thing, and the thing we overlook because we are so used to reading it, is that Jesus was placed into a manger. A manger is an animal feeding trough. Think about that for just a moment. Jesus, the divine Son, came into this world as a baby and was placed into a trough that animals ate from.

Would you do that with your child? Would you expect anyone to do that with their child? Consider this: Jesus was not any child. Jesus was the Messiah. He was the King. He was God in the flesh; the King of kings and Lord of lords! Would any royal family place their newborn child into a manger? No way!

When we meet Jesus in a manger, it tells us something about him. Yes, he was the Messiah, but he was different than other kings. Jesus is the King who came to save the lowly of the world. Jesus was the King who came to serve his people. Jesus was the King who came to give his life for his people that they might have life through him. What an amazing King we have!

**Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. Please subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day. We are reading through the life of Christ as recorded in the four Gospel accounts in 2019.

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God’s Plans or Our Plans?

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Reading the Word

Matthew 1:18–25 (ESV)

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel”

(which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

Understanding and Applying the Word

When Joseph found out the Mary was pregnant, they were not yet married. They were what we might call “engaged” in our current world. This presented a big problem. Pre-marital sex was not acceptable behavior in Jewish culture. The couple would be looked upon with suspicion and face ridicule from the community. Also, a who was the father? Joseph had to be wondering who Mary had been seeing behind his back. So, Joseph was ready to do what we would probably expect. He was ready to end the relationship.

As Joseph considered what he would do, an angel appeared to him and told him about Mary’s pregnancy and the importance of this child. Mary had not been unfaithful, but the child was of the Holy Spirit and was the fulfillment of prophecy from Isaiah 7:14. So, when Joseph awoke, he remained with Mary and they named the baby Jesus.

We should not quickly look past the impact the birth of Jesus likely had on Joseph. Mary’s pregnancy would have been a shock to the community and would have caused whispering and confrontation over improper sexual conduct. Joseph’s reputation likely suffered and he probably faced pressure to admit his sin or divorce his adulterous wife. Yet Joseph heard the word of God through the angelic messenger and accepted that this was the Lord’s plan for him. It would be difficult, but he was willing to do what God had called him to do. Would we be willing to do or go wherever God might call us, even if it meant difficulty for us? Do we trust the plans and purposes of God even when they interfere with our own plans?

**Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. Please subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day. We are reading through the life of Christ as recorded in the four Gospel accounts in 2019.

A Servant of the Lord

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Reading the Word

Luke 1:26–38 (ESV)

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Understanding and Applying the Word

These verses record what is often referred to as “The Annunciation.” This is the announcement by the angel Gabriel to the young virgin Mary that she was going to have a baby. Her baby would not be just any baby, but the “Son of the Most High.” Mary was told that her son would sit on the throne of his father David and would reign forever. With these words, Mary was being told that she would give birth to the long-awaited Messiah whom was prophesied in the Old Testament Scriptures and whom her people had been waiting for for hundreds of years.

Imagine how you might feel if you were face-to-face with an angel and told that you would be entrusted with a great responsibility such as giving birth to and raising the Son of God, the Messiah. Also, imagine that you are merely a young teenager and not even married yet. This was Mary. A young girl who was engaged, but not yet married in a world where pregnancy outside of wedlock was unacceptable. How would she deal with the social pressure? How would Joseph respond to this news? Who would believe her when she maintained that she was a virgin and that the child was of the Holy Spirit?

Mary’s response to the angel is something for us to think about. She said, “Behold, I am a servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” She did not ask to be excluded even though this was going to be extremely difficult for her. She trusted God and submitted to his plans for her. Can we do the same? Are we willing to be used in whatever way God chooses for us?

**Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. Please subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day. We will be reading through the life of Christ as recorded in the four Gospel accounts in 2019.